What The Heck Is

What the heck is… fika?

By Kitty Knowles 4 January 2017
What is fika? Pic: CC/Pixabay/ChristinaZetterberg

Explaining the buzzwords of the moment: what is Fika and what does it mean for our future?

Our weekly series What the heck is… exists to shed light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.

From vertical farming to helicopter money we’re on a mission to explain the difficult to explain.

Today, a word to please your palette and mend your mind: fika.

What is fika?

Fika might sound like a pulse-raising financial directive, but don’t fear: it’s far more delightfully indulgent. You might, for example, enjoy fika in Sweden, Norway or Finland, where it’s part of daily life at the office.

The slang word “fika” has been traced back to 1913, where it’s believed by some to be backslang for the Swedish word “kaffe”.

Today, it essentially translates as “to have coffee”, but it’s also so much more…

It’s a moment to slow down, to distance yourself from your daily stresses, and appreciate the joy in the small things around you.

Think Hygge, but with caffeine.

Read more: What the heck is… Hygge?

A coffee partY outside Sylstugan , in 1898. Pic: CC
A coffee partY outside Sylstugan , in 1898. Pic: CC

Who can enjoy fika?

Staff at all levels can enjoy fika at work – often twice a day at around 9am and 3pm.

It’s basically a better version of coffee and cake, where you don’t have to even like coffee (contemporary fika savants know that if you want to swap hardcore caffeine for tea or lemonade that’s totally ok).

Being mindful is also obviously easier on a satisfied stomach, which is why fika is often served with traditional pastries (think ground almond Mazarins, mini marzipan Punchrulle logs, or love-heart vanilla shortbread treats, Vaniljhjärta – we found a great list here).

Alternatively, go savoury and sip with a side of smörgås – open-faced sandwiches.

The idea of fika is such a strong cultural phenomenon, that whole new words have developed through its existence.

Swedish pastries in general are often called fikabröd (fika bread), a fik is a cafe where you have your fika, or a fikarum is the room you use at work.

fikasugen means to crave a fika, while a fikapaus is to take a break from whatever you’re doing to have a “fika”.

We bet you want a fikapaus right now.

Traditional Swedish pastry called Semla.

Why now?

We know, we know. Fika isn’t exactly new.

But if you’re not lucky enough to work in a stunning Scandi office, it’s a pleasure you might not yet have experience.

And, as January brings the blues, and back-to-work stress, there’s never been a better time to rethink what really makes you perform your best at work.

Eyes glued to the computer screen never did anyone any favours.

If you’ve met a Swede outside of Sweden, they will likely tell you how fantastic it is, and how everyone should be doing it.

So why not boost the positive energy and productivity in your office with a mindful fika feast every now and again.

Never grab a coffee on the go again.